Attraction Tips: Soarin’

by on June 25, 2012 24 Comments

Filed under: Trip Planning

Soarin’ is my favorite ride at Walt Disney World. There, I said it. It feels good to get that out in the open. For many years now, a trip has not felt complete without a trip to The Land to hang glide over California. Unfortunately for me, it also seems to be the favorite of many an Epcot guest. In the Unofficial Guide, readers of all ages rank it 4 or above out of 5, with all but two age groups giving it a perfect score. So, how do you make the most of your time at Soarin’?

This sign outside the Land pavilion tells you it's time to park the stroller.

Tip: Visit Soarin’ early. I’m talking first thing early. To ride, I strongly recommend you get in line or obtain FASTPASS within the first 30 minutes the park is open.

If you have never been to Epcot to experience this magnificent ride, you might think it would be easy to grab a FASTPASS and see it during the day. You would be wrong about that. FASTPASS tickets for this ride can be gone as at noon or sometimes earlier. We advise getting your FASTPASS early in the day if you plan to use that method to ride Soarin’. This leads me to the infamous Soarin’ Stampede.

Since Soarin’ is good for kids of all ages (over 40″), it tends to be the first ride many families go to in the morning. As with most Disney procedures, opening time at Epcot can vary depending on the day. In the past, Epcot would allow guests in from 15-20 minutes early and hold at the Innoventions Plaza leading into the breezeway that leads directly to the Land. Currently, they will open the gates without a rope drop at Innoventions on most days and you will be free to head to the Land, but be prepared for either procedure depending on the crowds. Regardless, make Soarin’ your first stop.

Tip: To be among the first in line, arrive at Epcot at least 30 minutes prior to the official opening time. Once through the turnstiles, take the right fork around Spaceship Earth and head to the right to the passage through Innoventions West. This leads directly to The Land Pavilion. Strollers are not allowed inside the pavilion, and stroller parking is to the right, towards The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion. Either park your stroller before the lines surge to the ride or park quickly to the right. Once you are rid of the stroller or if you didn’t have one, you’ll want to enter on the doors to the right.

The line goes around the top of the pavilion to the right, looking out into the atrium this way.

During busy times, cast members lead the guests around to the right, past The Circle of Life film, in front of the Garden Grill, and down a staircase towards the Living With The Land ride. Then guests proceed through the seating area for the Sunshine Seasons food court and to the entrance for the ride. Once there, you have a choice of getting in line to ride immediately or getting a FASTPASS.

Tip: If you are right at the head of the crowd, go ahead and get in line; otherwise, go for FASTPASS. Or, if you don’t want kids trampled in this crowd (it can get quite crazy), then send one member of your party to get the FASTPASSes.

Knowing this pattern of how the crowd flows going into Soarin’ in the morning is half the battle. The second half is knowing what to do if you must ride Soarin’ but can’t make it to the park early. As mentioned, FASTPASS may be available if you are there before noon, but if not, you’ll have to figure out how to wait in line. Waits at Soarin’ are regularly between 60-120 minutes depending on the crowds. Fortunately, Disney has provided video games to play while in line.

Left for standby, right for FASTPASS

Tip: If you end up being forced to wait for Soarin’, try to wait until the line is 60 minutes or less, because you will be right at the games. That way the wait will be more tolerable.

The games in this line were among the first of Disney’s new interactive queues. Through technology very similar to that of a Microsoft Kinect sensor, guests wave their arms, jump up and down, or do other motions to affect objects on a large video screen on the wall. The games change from time to time, but I’ve played games where we had to knock balloons around, build earth formations, and grow plants.

Once you reach head of the line, either through FASTPASS or the regular line, you’ll be sent to the right or left to join a line for the ride boarding area. You’re not quite done waiting yet. Once in this line, you’ll be held until the cast member at the bottom of the ramp starts loading you into three separate stalls for boarding the attraction. These stalls correspond to the three sections of the ride vehicle. The cast member loading will place you in a line numbered 1, 2, or 3, where you will wait facing a TV screen running the names of California towns.

Tip: If it’s your first time, ask the cast member if it’s possible to wait for the top row. When the ride becomes airborne, you won’t have other guests’ feet hanging over you.

While you are riding, enjoy the easygoing gliding and the scent of oranges that is pumped into the ride, look for a hidden Mickey on the golf ball that screams past your head, and take a good look at Disneyland at Christmas in the last scene.

Personally, I like to get a FASTPASS for Soarin’ first thing in the morning, ride in the standby line, and grab some breakfast at Sunshine Seasons before using the FASTPASS. I just love it that much, plus the food at Sunshine Seasons is that good!

What about you? What are your tips for taking on Soarin’?

Posted on June 25, 2012

24 Responses to “Attraction Tips: Soarin’”

  • Always go for the front row of the middle loading section. If you have to wait for the next attraction load, it’s worth it.

  • When this ride opened in California I couldn’t tell why it was so popular.
    When it opened in Florida I was sure it would be met with indifference.

    Having recently been to WDW for the first time I see why it works well in the Land and Epcot, but I still don’t get why this attraction is so popular when I can best describe it as pleasantly unobtrusive, and bland.

    • I agree– I loved the ride but I don’t understand why it’s considered the best ride ever!? I guess the appeal of a whole family being able to enjoy it together but it’s kind of like a 1990s ride in my opinion. I don’t really know. lol

      • I think for me it’s just that it’s so relaxing and cool. Definitely not the most advanced technology or thrill, but I like the calmer rides more than thrills a lot of the time. Just personal taste, of course, but I love it.

      • by Leslie Whitten on June 26, 2012, at 12:56 pm EST

        It’s definitely my favorite ride in all the parks, and it is really hard to explain why. I’m surprised more people don’t feel like you all. I think part of it’s popularity is the lack of a lot of other rides at Epcot. For me, it is just pure, unadulterated happiness. You are flying high with the wind in your face and the smell of oranges and pine. Just so peaceful and joyful. Aah – I’m so there.

  • We have one person in our party that gets the FASTPASS tickets for our entire group while the rest of us get in line. We do this not just for Soarin, but for every ride with a FASTPASS. It’s easier, quicker, and doesn’t bulk up the FASTPASS lines.

  • The last time I was at the Epcot before opening, sometime this past spring, they didn’t let us enter the park 15 minutes early. Have they changed it again?

  • Rode Soarin’ once, and it was very cool. However, I wil NEVER ride it again. It was entirely too realistic and competely messed with my vertigo/problem with heights. I managed not to slither out of the seat (or climb out, which is what my instinctive reaction is….escape, no matter how illogical) but I literally had to go stand with my back against the wall for a few minutes after “coming down.” Uggggggh. NEVER NEVER NEVER again.

  • We also always have a designated Fastpass getter! It’s easier and quicker-usually whoever is the fastest runner is elected!

    • We do the same thing! While the fastest person (usually hubby) goes to get them, the rest of the group slowly heads over to Test Track to get in line.

  • by Tim-Possible on June 25, 2012, at 3:07 pm EST

    We did what you described this winter, however rather than grab the FASTPASS and then jump in line we shot across to Test Track and got in the standby line. By the time we were through there (and a quick breakfast) our Soarin’ time arrived. We grabbed a FASTPASS for Test Track and shot back across to Soarin’. By the time that was done our time was there for Test Track again. Two of my favorite rides in the first 2 hours in the park.

    • We did that last summer. Grabbed Soarin’ and then headed over to FP, back to Soarin’ and we were good to go. Agreed, it’s a great plan, and it is incorporated into the Epcot touring plans.

  • Does anyone know…if you are among the first to get to the attraction at rope drop, can you still ask to do child swap? If so, how would you go about this? Thanks!

  • The last time I tried to cut through Innoventions they were waiting outside the door at rope drop. The cast member said that he couldn’t let me in to take the shortcut. I said I was a really big fan of “Where’s The Fire?” but it was a no go. I haven’t tried it since, but are people having luck with this?

  • On our trip in November 2010 I was one of the first seven people to get a FASTPASS from one of the seven machines. I was figuratively SOARIN on exhilaration of being the first person of the day to use one of the FP machines!

  • I’ve often wondered why the FastPass machines for Soarin’ can’t be put outside of The Land building. It would save a lot of walking and congestion.

    • I totally agree!!!!

    • Well, it would be interesting to see
      a) how sales at Sunshine Seasons would be affected and
      b) how ridership on Living With the Land would be affected
      if FastPass machines for Soarin’ were moved outside the building.

      But I think reasons a) and b) are part of your answer.

  • We had good luck with Soarin’ fast passes on May 19th. We arrived at the Land, via the International Gateway, at around 9:15am. We were meeting up with friends, so the plan was to get fast passes and then have breakfast and chat while we waited for our return times. Worked perfectly! I’d do that again in a heartbeat!

  • Now that TT is closed, I heard that Soarin’ is a MADHOUSE for the first 30 minutes after park opening. We plan on hitting the Character Spot first (or Sum of All Thrills), then sending someone to get FPs around 9:30am when the crowd has died down. Has anyone else heard about the crowds since TT has closed?

  • I rode Soarin’ the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend around 9pm – I was surprised to see Soarin’ still open as park closing was at 9pm that night – with virtually no wait in the standby line. I wonder if this is a fluke or perhaps I had great luck that night!